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Maryland agency responds to College Park pedestrian accidents

Monday - 5/12/2014, 11:49am  ET

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Family and friends of Carlos Pacanins gather at the corner of U.S. Route 1 and Knox Road in Columbia Park, Md., on April 14 to mourn his death. Pacanins and a second man were both killed at the intersection this year. Now the University of Maryland is calling for safety improvements and tougher enforcement . (WTOP File/Mike Murillo)

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WASHINGTON --After several students crossing a busy intersection at Route 1 in College Park were struck by cars over the last few months, the Maryland State Highway Administration is stepping in to work with the University of Maryland to improve safety for pedestrians.

Starting this month, several improvements will begin, including the installation of 'don't cross' signs along the Route 1 curb line, and an evaluation of the timing of the signal cycles and vehicular speeds along the main throughfare, among other things.

University police also released a You Tube video outlining the changes to the "Be Smart, Be Safe campaign," and announced it plans to request a barrier in the Route 1 median. The department also wants speeds to be reduced to 25 miles per hour where Route 1 runs through the university.

The efforts come on the heels of increased demands by school officials and the city for help -- both had sent letters to the highway administration last month. Since January, five people have been hit crossing Route 1 near Knox Road, among them, two fatalities.

In an online petition, students asked for sidewalk barriers along Route 1. More than 2,100 people signed the petition as of late April. At the time, Mayor Andrew Fellows told WTOP that the city of College Park was already discussing the possibility of erecting temporary barriers.

On April 11, Carlos Pacanins, 23, a senior at the university, was the second person killed at the intersection this year. A close family member, Keith Hearle, said the family appreciates the university taking action.

Hearle would like to see lights, like those used in school zones, installed in the area as well. "You see yellow blinking lights to say, well hey, I've got to pay a little more attention here."

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WTOP reporters Megan Cloherty and Mike Murillo contributed to this report

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